Optimism about the immediate efficacy of a new administration must be tempered with caution

Dear Editor,

Nowrang Persaud’s recent cautionary piece on the ability to deliver on promises must be taken seriously by politicians, as well as political commentators. As an organisational analyst he sees, like others do, the inherent difficulties that would emerge from the need to restructure institutions in the first instance.

The suggestion of quick fixes reveals an alarming innocence of how organisations, and public agencies in particular, are run, or actually mismanaged. Most, having admitted to how polluted are the many systems in place, they need to pause and reflect deeply on what kinds of reconstructions will be needed, how they will be implemented, and most importantly, whether the relevant human resource skills and competencies will be available to effect achievement of the objectives sought.

For account must be immediately taken of the high percentage of non-traditional (contracted employees) in the extant public service – not counting the 10 Regions, close to 4000 in the ministries, with nearly 200 in the Office of the President; a priority area for operational change, as agreed by so many.

The point about contracted employees (from the highest to the lowest level/grade in the public service) is that rather than being pensionable, they become eligible for gratuity after every six months of service, and without performance being a compelling criterion. So that apart from the not unreasonable likelihood of early departures, for those who would opt to stay on, the absence of relevant records would deflect any exploration into their competencies as performers.

Optimism about the immediate efficacy of a new administration must therefore be tempered with caution, and indeed with having to grapple with the reality of attracting proactive replacements, notwithstanding the repetitive platitudes about forgiveness and reconciliation in contradiction of accusations regarding polluted systems and corrupted practices and procedures.

In the face of possible shortage of the dynamic (and high-minded) local human capital, resort to a more neutral, and certainly more objectively certifiable skills in the diaspora may be an option to be urgently explored. Any significant hiatus between departures and replacements could put delivery targets at risk, which cannot be afforded.

Conceivably what has been observed as the present chaotic situation may need such critical reconstruction across the board, that it would hardly be far-fetched to contemplate one massive, or a series of consultancies – local and foreign – to aid in the process of reconciliation during the exercise of reconstruction, which on reflection would be necessary whoever wins.

With all this must be (re) established all the relevant monitoring and oversight institutions built into which must be a level of integrity that will inspire trust across the board.

Complementarily there will be need for a creative information and communication support project aimed at converting attitudes on the one hand, and reinforcing some on the other; while making appropriate accommodation for effective feedback, in order to moderate the delusion of those in power that being there qualifies their decisions as always being right and unquestionable.

For heaven’s sake, however, beef up the Audit Office of Guyana in any way possible, with the competencies to investigate, report and recommend on the cost-effectiveness of projects past, current and proposed.

Yours faithfully,

E B John